Sunday, October 26, 2008

On USS Sunward 1972

Bahamas a Foreign Land Just Minutes Away

Forty-five minutes east by air from Miami, Florida, you can arrive at the city of Nassau, Bahamas, where I have been nineteen times. Visits there were to preach, do seminars, or general consultant work for many of the denominations that have sizeable churches on New Providence Island or other neighboring islands. At the port in Nassau is a familiar post with boards made into arrows pointing in all directions of a distance city along with the mileage. Some were close but most hundreds or a few thousand miles away. This is just one indicator that you are no longer in the United States.

On a number of occasions I addressed over a thousand for the Church of God, Central Bible church, and the Christian and Missionary Alliance. These were thrilling times as you shared not only their culture, but their faith. Likewise, many times I spoke on cruise ships that were docked in Nassau on the weekends for the missionary group with Bethany Fellowship. The ships would not allow denominational groups but would welcome the Fellowship because they were made up of people from a number of churches solely for the purpose of ministry to the guests on the ship.

Nassau is the home of the Bahamian national capital, the bustling hub of The Islands of the Bahamas that traces its heritage back to the shipwrecking days of the legendary pirate Blackbeard. Prized for its sheltered harbor, the city made history and preserved it beautifully in colonial mansions, cathedrals, 18th-century fortresses and a Queen's Staircase whose 66 steps lead to a view not to be missed.

Today’s Bahamians continue the tradition of the early Lucayan and Taino Indians by producing distinctive arts and crafts that reflect the skill and artistry of their heritage. Bahamians utilize local resources to create unique foods, spices, ceramics, crafts, art, and music.

O yes, you will want to join in the fun of bargaining at the famous Straw Market, savor the colorful bustle of outdoor fruit and vegetable stalls and fresh fish market, or be entranced by the fashionable elegance of Bay Street's international boutiques.

The cities of Nassau and Freeport are the best know cities on the islands, but there is much more to discover in the islands of the Bahamas--there are about 698 more islands and cays! These other islands are called the 'Family Islands'. If you are searching for unspoiled beauty and quiet, you will find it in the Family Islands. These islands offer miles and miles of unexplored beaches, caves and cays which allow for the best scuba diving, fishing and sailing. The people of the Family Islands are well-known for their warmth and friendliness.

Paradise Island, which is 685 acres, is connected to the city of Nassau by two 600-foot bridges. The island is developed almost exclusively to accommodate travelers, with resorts, hotels, restaurants, shops, a golf course, and the large Atlantis aquarium along with other sites. There are very few private residences existing on this island.

One lady I remember well was the pianist each time I was a speaker on a cruise ship. She was from Ireland and had all the characteristics with auburn hair and a face full of freckles. Her husband was the president of the Bank of Scotland that had about 50 branch offices throughout the islands. These were people that God had blessed and were more than happy to share they bounty with others. I remember visiting in their marvelous home after many of the services and gathering around the piano and as a group sang many of the old hymns of the faith.

While ships came for many different places they ported in the same port with as many as seven nearly every weekend.

My mind has many times evaluated a day when people from every corner of the globe will gather into one place. The place for the redeemed. Color or denomination will not be a factor. Only those who have a faith and knowledge in Jesus Christ.

“And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.” Luke 13:29

“And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:31

“The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” Isaiah 52:10

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Knossos visit in Crete

Crete revealed the finding of a great civilization

Crete lies at the point where the continents of Europe, Asia and Africa meet. It is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean with Iraklion the biggest city in Crete, and the fifth in Greece, with a population in excess of 130,000.

The climate of Crete is probably the mildest in Europe. The mountains that run across the island act as a barrier to the weather, often creating different conditions in northern and southern parts of Crete. The highest peak in this area is Pahnes, at 2,452 meters above sea level.

Some of the most characteristic natural beauties of the Cretan scenery consist of the famous Cretan gorges which begin at the mountainous areas of the island and end to the sea. The green gorges abound with rare species of flora and fauna which are protected by strict rules, as they are unique throughout Greece. Among them, one can admire rare species of cypress-trees, platans, pine-trees and wildflowers.

The Venetians began construction of the city walls in 1462, which were completed more than a century later. The walls were 4km in length, of a triangular shape and had seven bastions. Centuries of events occur between this time and the turn of this last century, but Iraklion grew in size after the 1913 union with Greece. However, its strategic location again made it a target for invading forces in 1941. The German bombardment during the Battle of Crete caused a great amount of damage and after the war the city was extensively rebuilt.

After shopping in the old walled city, Richard and Carolyn, our traveling friends, and my wife and I, flagged a taxi who drove us to the famous Minoan Palace of Knossos located about 5-6 km south of the city. Knossos was the most impressive and luxurious places built during Bronze Age (2800-1100 BC).The excavations reveal the remains of a most progressive civilization of years past. The Palace was built twice, every time even more beautiful. It covered an area of 22,000 sq.meters. It had about 1400 rooms in the original palace and 300 people lived in them (the Royal family of Knossos and their servants). The king was called Minos, son of Zeus. In Knossos one can see 2 big paved courtyards, many storerooms, temples, private rooms and a theater. Some parts of the Palace were 4-5 floors high. Staircases with shallow alabaster steps led on the upper or underground floors.

It was really exciting to visit the Minoan Palace and admire the King's and the Queen's apartments with the lovely decoration of blue dolphins. We also saw what is said to be the oldest throne in Europe: the alabaster-made throne of King Minos in the throne room.
There is not enough room to allow me to write about this unusual civilization but it is believed the European system has its roots there. One thing for sure is that buildings of yesteryear grow old, crumble and the people that lived in such places are often forgotten in history.

“Hast thou not heard long ago how I have done it, and of ancient times that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste fenced cities into ruinous heaps.” --2 Kings 19:25

God as the Sovereign of all creation shows that He works out His will among the inhabitants of the earth toward an ultimate end—ridding the earth of all rebellion and bringing everything back into perfect harmony with Himself

Wednesday, October 15, 2008



Arriving at Kusadasi, Turkey, reputed to be the most attractive city in the Aegean (it was!), we caught a bus for our trip about 30 miles to visit the Ephesus of the Bible.

The apostle Paul spent more time here than any other place he visited on any of his missionary journeys, so I was excited that I could see it. It was here he faced the riot of the silversmith, led by Demetius, because the sale of the statues of Diana (goddess of love) had taken a down turn due to his preaching.

This was also the town where the young evangelist Timothy served as pastor and according to tradition was the home of the Apostle John and Mary the mother of Jesus in their later years.

The city was founded by the Greeks nearly three thousand years ago and has some of the most impressive archaeological and historical sites in the world. However, this city, like others in the Middle East has been burned, conquered and destroyed. Afterwards it became somewhat Romanized so most of the present ruins are Roman ruins. Ephesus is the best-preserved classical city on the Mediterranean, and perhaps the best place in the world to get the feeling for what life was like in Roman times. As a strategic coastal gateway to the Eastern World, this Ionian refuge grew to be the second largest city in the Roman Empire; the site of a Christian shrine, and at the top of the hill still stands the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. During its powerful era even Cleopatra walked its streets.

As I walked the hand hewn stone streets, viewing the carved pillars that lay everywhere, I could image myself walking with Paul or Timothy stopping to go into the Library of Celsus, which in its restoration remains a fascination sight. It was hard for me to remember that most of this preceded the birth of Christ by a thousand years.

I was sincerely impressed with the quality of life the inhabitants must have enjoyed. Long before America this community had running water carried by aqueducts, some of which still remain, that gave them even flush toilets in both the community places or in their homes. Image this over 3000 years ago!

The city had a most inspiring Great Theater located toward the Church of the Virgin Mary that was created on the foundation of the house where John, the disciple of Christ,
and Mary, the mother of Christ, lived in their final years. Not far away was built the Basilica of St. John over the spot where John was supposedly buried on the southern slope of Ayosolug Hill. The monumental basilica was in the shape of a cross and was covered with six domes. Its construction, being of stone and brick, is an extremely rare find amongst the architecture of its time. Raised by two steps and covered with marble, the tomb of St John was under the central dome that was once carried by the four columns at the corners. The columns in the courtyard reveal the monograms of Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora. Constructed in the 5th century AD, the baptistery is north of the nave, with its key hole shape. Rampart walls around the church were constructed for protection from the Arabian attracts in the 7th - 8th centuries AD. The impressive 10th century AD frescoes representing St John, Jesus and a Saint, ornament the chapel. With the invasion of Turks, the chapel was used as a mosque in the 14th century; unfortunately the Basilica of Saint John became unusable due to the serious earthquake in the same century.

This area reveals the greatness of yesteryear, where time brought on destruction and saw buildings perish. One day we can become part of a beautiful city where time is no more and when decay or death is over.

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” - 1 Corinthians 2:9

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Going-to-the-Sun Road

One of the most beautiful parts of the United States is an area in Northwest Montana. My wife and I, and a couple friends from Ohio, had stopped at a lodge for lunch and learned we could board an open top touring car and ride over what was a most spectacular drive. What a surprise we were in for as we viewed soaring mountain peaks, glaciers, deep-blue lakes, and lush forests of spruce, lodge pole pine, cedar, hemlock. All of which was a delight to our senses as we rode on this way on what is called the Going-to-the-Sun Road through Glacier National Park. Many turnouts allowed us to relish vistas of glacier-sculpted mountains and glimpse wildlife which was in abundance.

Animals were sometimes a problem as the road was being constructed. One account describes a deer that became entangled in blasting wires and prevented a blast that would have killed it. There were many stories about the bears that were drawn to the camps by the smell of food. Employees had to watch their lunches; they would hang them in trees along with saws or other tools that would move with the wind and frighten off the bears. At food supply stations contractors would pound nails in the walls with the points outward. One meat house was built on stilts and fitted out with a drawbridge. One black bear even set up a permanent post at the back door of a camp kitchen. Grizzly bears were far more dangerous than black bears and caused serious alarm. When one threatened the Russian crew at Camp 6 on Logan Pass, the contractors called in park rangers for protection.

The building of a section of the road through the extreme terrain and conditions west of Logan Pass illustrates why construction took so long. Because work on all parts of the road progressed at the same time, workers did not have a completed road below them to transport their supplies. The contractors also used pneumatic drills and almost 500,000 pounds of explosives. Construction typically took place in stages. First, the engineering crew marked the way followed by laborers who cut down the trees and did the "grubbing," removing stumps and roots. Then the explosives men moved in. After the explosion broke up the rock, the power shovels cleared and loaded the debris on trucks or on "dinky" railroads.

Laborers came from all over. One group of Russian immigrants set up their own cook tent with their own cook. A number of Italian immigrants worked on the masonry guardrails. One Irish-American contractor tended to hire his fellow Irish from Butte, Montana.
Glacier National Park, which includes over one million acres of Rocky Mountain scenery, was designated as the country's 10th national park in 1910. The Great Northern Railway soon began building a series of hotels and chalets throughout the park.
We, and our friends, stayed at the Many Glacier Lodge where the surrounding mountains made it one of the most beautiful settings I have ever stayed. However, the air in the water pipes was a constant chime all night as we slept.
Going-to-the-Sun Road was the first to carry visitors by the lakes, glaciers, alpine peaks, and meadows of Glacier National Park. The 50-mile route, which connected the east and west sides of the park and crossed the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, was surveyed in 1918, and work began in 1921. Progress was slow, however, due to limited and erratic congressional funding and the difficulties of working under extreme mountainous conditions. This road was dedicated in 1933.

The area is so fitly described by the following Bible verse found in Isaiah 40:4, which says, “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain”

Heaven is created, built, and ready for His children to come and see, and to live forever. And His children will also come for every corner of the earth to dwell together in everlasting beauty.